McKennedy Uses Patience to Score a Home Track Victory
Jon McKennedy got his racing career rolling at a pair of New Hampshire tracks, but since Lee USA Speedway is the only one that is currently operating, it is the place he now calls home when he races there during stops by the Modified Racing Series.
“Star Speedway and here are my two hometracks because that is where I started racing in Supermodifieds,” recalls McKennedy.
So winning the MRS race at Lee was especially sweet for McKennedy on Friday night. But doing so wasn't an easy task.
“Everyone worked hard today,” said McKennedy. “It was a long and hot day, but I knew after practice that we had a good car that could win as long as nothing fell off and we kept its nose clean. We did those things and were able to win.”
The story of McKennedy's victory was conservation. While other drivers led laps early and eventually faded, McKennedy actually slipped back slightly to save his car for an end run that saw him easily take the victory.
“I fell back to seventh and eighth there for awhile because this place is all about tire management,” said McKennedy. “The first 50 laps, I never even drove it at half throttle. It paid off because in the last 30 laps, I still had plenty of tire left.”
Now, the defending MRS champion is looking to continue a run of momentum as the series heads to Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) on Saturday night.
“The last few races were good,” said McKennedy. “Thompson, we were third. Monadnock, we were second and here we won. Oxford is where we won last year, so things are turning around. We started out the year a little rough, but it's getting better.”
Dwight Jarvis Holds On For Second Place
Another former MRS champion, Dwight Jarvis, finished second to McKennedy. While Jarvis appeared to close up on the leader slightly at the end, it was more of an illusion as Jarvis didn't expect to be able to challenge for the lead with what he had left.
“That was pretty much all that I had,” said Jarvis. “We were all tied up in lapped traffic and they weren't obeying the [passing] flag too good and Jon was being careful, so I reeled him in a little bit. But my car loosened up too much at the end. I took off and went too early. I just went too fast.”
Jarvis was quick in practice and won his heat race, but the car he ran the feature with had undergone some big changes before the feature started.
“The car was fast off the trailer, but before the main event we changed every spring in it and did a bunch of other work to it because we knew it would free up.”
Joey Jarvis Has a Good Night Too
Dwight wasn't the only Jarvis who had a strong finish at Lee. His nephew, rookie Joey Jarvis, finished a solid sixth in the #9NH Modified. The younger Jarvis didn't look like a rookie though. In a race where many veterans wore out their tires early, Joey came on stronger near the end of the 100-lap event.
“The race went well,” said Jarvis. “We went with the 'save your tires until the end' strategy and it paid off for the most part.”
The top ten finish puts a stop to a run of bad luck for Joey.
“We've been fighting mechanical problems all through the year and we finally got some things figured out,” said Jarvis. “We had so many stupid things happen. We were running sixth at Waterford and ran out of fuel. We were eighth at Monadonock and broke a rocker arm. So I'm just ecstatic with this run. When you can the leader at the end of the race, that's a good night.”
Coby Spends Time Out Front, But Fades
Doug Coby looked like a possible winner in the early to middle stages of the MRS race at Lee, but then he slipped high in turn two and appeared to hit the outside wall. Coby told us after the race that he didn't actually contact that concrete, but his hopes of winning sure did hit a wall.
“I didn't brush the wall,” said Coby. “I got the lead in just a few laps and wasn't pushing the car at all. I was using about a quarter throttle. Maybe I should have used a 16th of the throttle though because five laps into the lead, I got a little loose. I had an eight car length lead, so I said 'okay - it's no big deal if he gets me'. Well, they put that sealer up there and I was getting good forward bite in that sealer, but I just missed it in one corner. That took the right front up into the marbles. I didn't hit the wall, but I fell back to third.”
“Then I was riding in third and the car was free. That was lap 50, so I said 'let's pit'. The tires would cool down and we tightened the car up a lot. But it was still wicked free. I knew that we had a good car and if I lasted until lap 80, we could hold on for a good finish. Well, I lasted until about lap 45.”
Growing up in Connecticut racing circles didn't give Coby much exposure to the unique layout of the Lee racetrack. After this event, he's not sure what to think of the place either.
“This is a very interesting race track,” said Coby. “I loved it for 45 laps and hated it for 55 laps. It just sucks that those 55 laps were the last ones tonight.”
Coby ended up finishing 12th.
Ordway Leads Lap in Front of Home Crowd
Mike Ordway, Jr. did grow up around Lee. He knows he way around there well and led the opening laps of the race in his #10x Modified - much to the delight of fans from his nearby hometown of Fremont, New Hampshire.
“This was good - especially after we struggled last week at Monadnock. Just to come here where I learned to race, it was a lot easier.
“The car was great in the beginning. I thought that I was saving my stuff. I told the guys while I was leading to keep me with the field because I didn't want to drive away and burned my tires up. I don't think we did burn it up. The car just went away.”
Ordway's Modified schedule is a limited one and he isn't quite sure which race will come next, but he does know when he'll get to run at Lee again.
“I don't know when we are going to race the Modified next, but I've got my own small block Supermodified that we are going to bring out here next week and start racing so I can keep racing and keep on my game.”
Ordway finished 15th.
Seuss Overcomes to Finish Fourth at Lee
Andy Seuss had a busy day at Lee In practice, the team ran into trouble will the kills witch on their Modified and repairs had to be made - costing valuable track time. Then, on lap one of his heat race, Seuss barely got caught up in a big wreck that involved Steven Masse and Chris Pasteryak. The contact might have been minimal, but it still caused plenty of damage.
“I thought that I was through it, but I wasn't.,” said Seuss. “We hit pretty hard and had to change the spindle, the upper control arm, the tie rod end and a few more things before the start of the consi. We never had time to set the caster, camber and toe. So I didn't know what to expect.”
The team apparently guessed right on the repairs and adjustments as Seuss working his way up through the consi and then through the field in the feature race, where he started 22nd and finished fourth. Even that wasn't without drama though as Seuss had a tire doing flat and again had to work his way through the field from dead last on the lead lap, down the final stretch of the 100-lap event.
“We had to pass every car in the consi and then come up from 22nd in the feature,” said Seuss. “We were up into the top 10 when the right rear tire went down, so we had to start passing cars all over again. But it's fun to pass here. Lee has a good outside groove. You just have to watch what the guy in front of you is doing, set him up and go for it.”
By the end of the race, Seuss appeared to have one of the quickest cars on the track, but he's not sure that a few more laps would have helped him finish any higher.
“Everyone was pretty eve at that point,” said Seuss. I would have liked to have seen a caution to see how we could have stacked up, but we were all sliding around so much at that point, I don't know if I could have chased any of those guys down.”
Seuss was especially motivated to place well at Lee and it showed. Earlier in the day, he received news that a close friend, former Lee regular Jay Hull, had passed away. Hull was building an ACT Late Model for Seuss to race later this season. Seuss was solemn and quiet about the matter after the race, but admits he wanted to win for his friend.
“I would have loved to have done better for him…maybe to finish in the top three and got in the photos on the frontstretch, but it wasn't to be,” said Seuss.